Welcome to the Summer 2017 Ani-TAY Recommendation Collaboration! Assuming nobody else writes a better version of this before we have to publish, I’m your host this time, Raitzeno, and I’ve cooked up— no, thankfully, I haven’t. We’ve had some scheduling kerfluffles leading to me writing this up, but the overall process this time was smoother, so hopefully you’re reading this a little earlier in the season than usual.

While our list this time around is almost the same size as last season, the distribution is quite different - pun intended, as we’ve quarantined the Strike section as its own category. We’ve also decided to forego any shows picked up by Netflix, as they will not be legally available to watch outside of Japan until next season at minimum; instead, whenever Netflix releases an anime season from now on, we’ll add it to the next collab we do. If anyone was looking for recommendations of things we couldn’t legally watch yet, well, too bad. Suffer with us.

Without further ado, let’s jump on into the list.

The 5 New Shows You Should Be Watching:

A Centaur’s Life - [Centaur no Nayami] 

Written by: KodaKazar

Genres: Comedy, Dystopian, Monster Girl, Slice of Life

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Himeno “Hime” Kimihara is a sweet, shy, teenage girl...who just happens to be a centaur. Hime’s world is one where evolution took a completely different turn, where instead of evolving from four-limbed creatures, humanity evolved from a host of six-limbed creatures, resulting in centaurs, demonfolk, angelfolk, merfolk, goat people, and cat people, as well as a separate species of sentient snake people. In this world, despite the wide range of physical appearances, all humans are equal by law...for better or worse...

Why You Should Be Watching: A Centaur’s Life is, on the surface, yet another entry in the ever increasing genre of slice of life series featuring monster girls, and as such a series, it is a pretty decent show. What elevates A Centaur’s Life to being one of the standouts of its genre is its extensive and well executed world building. For you see, not all is right in this world. On paper, forced equality seems like a potentially good idea, but in practice, things start to head south rather quickly. Hybrid children born from interspecies relationships often have crippling handicaps. Littering at the schools designed for merfolk can, and will, get you shot on sight by armed military guards. Discriminating against any other species for any reason, such as riding on a centaur or cutting off the angelfolk’s halos made of hair, will result in you going on a nice camping trip! A reeducation camping trip, that is. This all ends up creating a rather unique sight, a slice of life comedy series where all the characters are always walking on eggshells, because saying or doing anything deemed inappropriate can lead to your life being ruined. The palpable tension gets turned up even further when new members of the cast are added in, with their arrival bringing the messed up state of the show’s world from hiding in the background to right dead center for all to see. On top of that, for all the patting on the back the society in A Centaur’s Life does for its claimed “equality”, there are still clear divisions in the society, especially when it comes to finances, with class inequality being a very real thing in this so called perfect world. If you are a fan of monster girl shows, odds are you are already watching A Centaur’s Life, but if you aren’t already watching this show and you love seeing excellent world building, then I implore you to give this show a chance.

Recommended by: Gugsy, Koda, Stinolez

Knight’s & Magic

Written by: Raitzeno

Genres: Fantasy, Mecha, Isekai, Light Novel

Spoiler-free Synopsis: A genius programmer, who is possibly a little too obsessed with plastic models of mecha, dies in an accident. He finds himself reborn into a world where both magic and mecha are real. The mecha are powered by mana, programmed through spells, and stagnant in development. All this means they’re the perfect toys for Ernesti Echavalier, our boy-genius protagonist, who gets to finally build real custom mecha in any shapes and configurations he likes. There’s plenty of intrigue, backstabbing, and nasty giant monsters, both within and outside the borders, all of which is an annoyance at worst and a staging ground for his toys at best to Eru.

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: Punctuation issues aside, Knight’s & Magic is great fun. For a world that’s obviously got so much horribly dark shit going on in the background, K&M takes a very cheerful outlook through the brightly-shining eyes of a (man)child suddenly surrounded with toys. His eternal, bubbly happiness about his situation is as entertaining to us as it is exasperating to his surroundings, who for the most part are desperately trying to take matters seriously. There are several of what would be romantic interests in any other anime, but Eru’s love of robots to the exclusion of all else completely prevents this from falling into the “harem garbage” tropes that many other Isekai shows get tripped up on. The visuals are also gorgeous, with high production values and some serious love poured into the CG mecha fights. It’s consistently cool and fun week after week, regardless of the tone of the events going on.

Recommended by: Raitzeno, Requiem

Magical Circle Guru Guru - [Mahoujin Guru Guru]

Written by: Koda Kazar

Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Spoiler-free Synopsis: The seal that for untold hundreds of years has contained the great evil Giri has worn off. Now that darkness threatens to spread through the lands, a young boy named Nike is chosen against his will to become the hero of legend tasked with stopping Giri. With the help of Kukuri, a young girl who is the last of the Guru-Guru magic users, Nike sets out to tackle this cliche-as-hell quest.

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: If you’ve ever enjoyed playing an old school JRPG or action-adventure game such as the early Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or Legend of Zelda titles on the NES, SNES, and other such platforms, then this series is a must watch for you. Magical Circle Guru-Guru is a loving parody send up to these classic titles. The show pokes fun at every single genre convention, from the storytelling and characters, to the gameplay mechanics, all the way down to the art style by peppering in pixel art wherever they can. The show operates on the gatling gun style of comedy, firing off joke after joke with such a rapid pace that even if a joke doesn’t particularly land well with you, it is followed up with another seven that do. The comedy isn’t even just straightforward jokes, as it works in some pretty clever wordplay sometimes as well. The only downside to the show so far is that aside from Nike and Kukuri, most of the characters don’t matter, ultimately being nothing more than glorified NPCs rather than new additions to the party. Even with that flaw, Magical Circle Guru-Guru is still one of the most genuinely pleasant hidden gems of not just the season, but the entire year.

Recommended by: Grex, Gugsy, Koda, Messy, Raitzeno, Requiem

Fastest Finger First - [Nana Maru San Batsu (7o3x)]

Written by: Raitzeno

Genres: Sports, Slice of Life, High School, Comedy

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Koshiyama Shiki’s first week of high school betrayed his expectations in every way. As if the overbearing hotbloodedness of the sports teams’ recruitments weren’t enough, even the culture clubs were getting rowdy - especially the Quiz Club captain, Sasajima Gakuto, forcing a pop-quiz-like set of quiz questions on unsuspecting freshmen. But while the enthusiasm was a turnoff, the bookish Shiki went ahead and answered them all anyway in between an otherwise uneventful first day - though this distraction combined with his timidity ended up costing him his chance to get on the library committee. But after a surprise quiz bowl during the schoolwide club assembly, Koshiyama finds himself fascinated with competitive quizzes, a game that even a spindly, meek person has a chance at winning. As he delves deeper into the world of competitive quiz bowl, he breaks out of his shell and makes new friends and rivals among classmates, clubmates, and even in other schools. But he must remember, only those who’ve earned the “right to answer” can win!

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: I know what you’re thinking: “Why is a show about quizzes labeled sports?” That’s actually the beauty of 7o3x. It’s a stealth sports show. It’s got all the trappings of a good sports show - rivals, teammates, tense competition, a protagonist who is subpar except at one particular aspect of the game - but it’s couched in a nerdy non-‘sport’ that people who “hate sports” can still enjoy. In fact, several Ani-TAY writers who were in similar (or identical) clubs in high school themselves are having an absolute blast with the show. It’s got a colorful cast, though there’s some debate on whether or not a few newbie voice actors are good fits, and most people’s quirks are kept on the down-low enough that while nearly everyone is fun, nobody’s especially jarring. It’s not an amazing, standout sports show in comparison to any of the great sports comedies like Haikyuu, Prince of Tennis, or even Eyeshield 21, but it’s a really solid sports show with serious cross-genre appeal. Like Gakuto says, “Quizzes are a game that anyone can play and enjoy!”

Recommended by: Raitzeno, Requiem, Stanlick

Restaurant to Another World - [Isekai Shokudou]

Written by: KodaKazar

Genres: Adventure, Cooking, Fantasy, Isekai

Spoiler-free Synopsis: The Western Restaurant Nekoya is your typical small scale Western cuisine restaurant located in your average mundane Tokyo shopping district, serving all styles of dishes that have Western origins, even dishes often thought to be synonymous with Japanese cuisine. However, there is one thing out of the ordinary with this restaurant. Every Saturday Nekoya plays host to patrons from a fantasy realm, who gain access to the restaurant thanks to magical doorways that randomly pop up in their world. On one fateful Saturday, a poor demon girl named Aletta wonders in outside of business hours and winds up being hired as the restaurant’s new waitress. What follows is the tales of Nekoya’s staff and its fantastical patrons.

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: Restaurant to Another World is quite possibly the chillest isekai, or another world, series yet, being closer in style to something like, say, Bartender than it is to its genre ilk like Re:ZERO. Some series are said to have their location be a character unto themselves, like Ikebukuro in Durarara!!, and Restaurant to Another World is an example of one such series. Nekoya is the only constant in this series. The patrons change as time passes by, with the children and grandchildren of previous patrons taking their spot. The staff also changes, with the current chef taking over duties from his grandfather. This is not a thrilling action series, but rather a calming character study, as each patron is given their own introduction half-episode that range in style from a treasure hunter searching for the long lost treasure of their mentor to a nature documentary-type look at a tribe of lizardmen. If you want a calm, relaxing series where you can see a wizard, samurai, and lionman argue over what meat dish best pairs with white rice, then Restaurant to Another World is just right for you.

Recommended by: Grex, Koda, Messy, Stinolez


The 1 Sequel You Should Be Watching

New Game!!

Written by: Gugsy

Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Aoba Suzukaze continues her work at Eagle Jump game studio, responsible for making one of her favorite game series, and also the one that jump started her fandom and design skills. While before, she was just learning the ins and outs of the company, getting used to her coworkers and her superiors and just getting out of bed in time, the team has a new game they’re working on and they’re counting on Aoba more than before!

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: The first season was praised for utilizing the widespread Cute Girls Doing Cute Things trope but putting it into a work setting, and you’ll find it continuing here. The animation remains superb, as does the voice casting and the fun! You can come for the yuri and the fanservice of course, but New Game has always been a light hearted romp through various work-related moments that many might identify with. However, just as things weren’t expected too much of Aoba in the first light Slice of Life season, now that she’s had some experience in the company, more is starting to be expected of her. And likewise, the series is tending towards a little more drama with the added responsibility on Aoba’s shoulders. No, it’s not a full blown drama yet, but this slight progression gives it a different but logical feel to the new season.

Recommended by: Grex, Gugsy, Koda, Messy, Raitzeno, Requiem, Rockmandash12, Stanlick, Stinolez


The 2 Shorts You Should Be Watching

Aho-Girl - [Aho Girl]

Written by: ShadowHaken

Genres: Comedy, Romance, School

Spoiler-free Synopsis:Yoshiko is not your usual high school girl; she has one special quality that makes her different from all the other students in her school, which is… that she is an idiot. We’re talking like a huge, energetic, and eternally optimistic idiot who takes everyone out of their comfort zone with her ideas and actions. Will her childhood friend Akutsu, AKA ‘A-Kun’, be able to change her, or will the entire school be drowned in the whirlpool of stupidity that is Yoshiko?!

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: While its premise of “this is the main character, she is an idiot, this is her life” seems simple, in truth what makes this show is how Yoshiko can turn every little thing into a spiral of madness. The unique reactions of everyone around her when confronted with the force of nature that is Yoshiko, who always transforms normal events into outlandish scenarios, will surely make you laugh.
Another point in its favor is that it’s a refreshing take on comedies. More often than not, the guy is the stupid and fun character who looks like he’s made of steel, being constantly beaten for his stupidity but is never actually harmed. Meanwhile the girl is usually the mature one, the voice of reason and the idiotic guy’s personal enforcer, smacking him when he gets out of line. In the case of Aho Girl, such roles are reversed, and now the girl is the dumb character, the one who makes the laughs while the guy tries to bring sanity back into the scene. While it is mostly the same formula already mentioned, this rare inversion of roles makes for a rather refreshing take on this common form of comedy.

Recommended by: Gugsy, Koda, Messy, Requiem, Rockmandash12, ShadowHaken

Tsuredure Children - [Tsurezure Children]

Written by: Grex

Genres: Comedy, Romance, School

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Adolescence can be a tough time for love. As kids start to grow into adults, they will inevitably struggle with many obstacles on their path to romance: the courage to confess, the embarrassment of intimacy, and the jealous little sisters obsessively protective of their onii-chans.

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: Tsuredure Children’s episodes are only twelve minutes in length, themselves separated into short skits lasting only a few minutes, each chronicling the trials and tribulations of various teenage relationships. The show’s brevity greatly works in its favor, forced not to dwell on trivialities and instead keep pace through consistent progress and punchlines. The sharp wit to its dialogue prompts some explosive laughs, its matter-of-fact view of romance can be strangely relatable, and hey, at the end of the day, teens hopelessly fumbling through their first loves is pretty darn cute. The series is hardly a groundbreaking experience, but its endearing couples and strong sense of humor make for an easy, entertaining watch each and every episode.

Recommended by: Gespenst, Grex, Gugsy, Koda, Messy, Raitzeno, Rockmandash12, Stanlick


The 4 Shows You Should Be Watching If You Have Amazon Strike

Welcome to the Ballroom - [Ballroom e Youkoso]

Written by: Stinolez

Genres: Comedy, Sports, Drama, Romance, School, Shounen

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Tatara Fujita is third year middle school student living a quiet, boring life and getting bullied by upperclassmen. One day, he’s rescued by a professional dancer, Kaname Sengoku, and dragged into trying ballroom dancing. There he meets Shizuku Hanaoka, a schoolmate he comes to secretly idolize. Upon returning home that day, he finds a DVD recording of Kaname Sengoku performing at a tournament - and winning it. Watching it changes Tatara’s world. From that moment, he falls in love with ballroom dancing and aspires to become a professional dancer.

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: Simplicity with striking visuals are the best selling points of Welcome to the Ballroom. Production I.G shows us that even something most people would deem boring can be thrilling and exciting. In just a few episodes, you can watch Tatara’s personal growth from clueless kid into competitive dancer. He is hopeless when trying to learn by standard means, but his ability to watch others closely and “steal” their techniques gives him the boost he desperately needs to catch others who are far ahead. His determination, potential and talent also spark fires in the hearts of his newly found rivals, slowly changing them as well.

Recommended by: Grex, Gugsy, Stanlick, Stinolez

Love and Lies - [Koi to Uso]

Written by: Rockmandash12

Genres: Drama, Romance

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Set in a future Japan, we follow Yukari Nejima, who for the most part is an average high schooler, but has an unorthodox love for a girl named Misaki Takasaki. You see, in this Japan, there exists the Hikari Project, which assigns compatible marriage partners when they turn 16, and Nejima just so happens to get assigned to someone else. Cue a fascinating love triangle, and a clash between our main cast and the world that surrounds them.

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: Koi to Uso is a work that puts an interesting spin on the tried and true romance: a forbidden love, not because of circumstance, but because of law and society. The romance and characters are extremely well done, and when you add the implications the premise has and the clash between the characters and setting, you have a remarkably great show. The world isn’t inherently all that much worse than the world we live in and it’s a believable prediction of the future, but obviously the concept is flat-out dystopian and seeing the clash is very enjoyable. With an interesting near-dystopian premise, a likable cast, and an engaging romance, it’s very compelling watch for fans of the genre, or just people who like shows that get you to think about the nature of society itself.

Recommended by: Rockmandash12, Stanlick, Stinolez

Made in Abyss

Written by: Gugsy

Genres: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Spoiler-free Synopsis: The titular Abyss is a massive cave system in which strange, mysterious creatures live, and ancient relics can be found by anyone aspiring enough to plumb the depths. These adventurers are categorized using a “Whistle” system with White Whistles designating the most experienced cave explorers, who have explored even the deepest points of the Abyss. Rico is the daughter of one of the most famous White Whistles, her mother, though she hasn’t seen her in many years now. While on a training exploration, she comes upon a mysterious robotic boy, leading to more mysteries to be discovered!

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: One of the most obvious reasons and the first thing you’ll surely notice is the outstanding visuals Made in Abyss has. Painstakingly detailed, this show will rival even some of the greatest anime movies you might have seen. The world-building is similarly impressive. The Abyss doesn’t stop for constant exposition conversations, but builds each new detail organically into its narrative. This is an anime that definitely exceeds in showing and not telling. The contrast between the relatively normal human town and the mysterious exoticness of the Abyss is striking, and each new level of it is unique and interesting, giving the show a lot more depth. The different flora and fauna of each level is well thought out and follows extremely well with the different Abyssal environments. Rico and Reg, the robotic boy, are easy to sympathize with, but the excellence of the world building keeps you glued to the screen, wanting to see what’s out there, and what new things you’ll see. All that said, this show is a great adventure with solid motivations. The worst kept secret so far is that something bad seems like it may be around any corner, so don’t let the cutesy design fool you. Still, this is the kind of show that I finish one episode and can’t wait for the next one to come.

Recommended by: Grex, Gugsy, Messy, ShadowHaken, Stanlick

Princess Principal

Written by: Grex

Genres: Action, Drama, Spies

Spoiler-free Synopsis: The land of Albion is divided between east and west, the Kingdom and the Commonwealth, each side silently vying to take down the other. In the midst of this underground conflict are five young women, ordinary high school students by day and Commonwealth spies by night. Whether the job calls for infiltration, sabotage or assassination, these girls are always up to the task.

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: Princess Principal is, in my humble opinion, easily one of the season’s strongest series. In short, it’s a fun spy show full of action and espionage. Each episode is peppered with interesting plot twists, while the characters are tangled up in a web of politics with surprising depth; several layers of factions within factions, information that people do and do not know, and alliances that may or may not be trusted. At a basic level, it’s also a very entertaining episodic series, each week delivering drama in spades surrounding various members of the cast, all of whom receive a more than reasonable degree of focus and development from one case to the next. On top of that, the show looks great, both artistically and technically, and the soundtrack marks an interesting departure for Yuki Kajiura, mixing her signature choral motifs with stereotypically spy-sounding themes. As long as you’re not turned off by the idea of “high school girl spies with some Victorian steampunk” being played very straight, this is a series anyone should check out.

Recommended by: Grex, Gugsy, Stanlick


Honorable Mentions:

In Another World With My Smartphone - [Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni]

Written by: Raitzeno, Stinolez

Genres: Comedy, Adventure, Fantasy, Harem

Spoiler-free Synopsis: After Mochizuki Touya was accidentally killed by a stray lightning bolt directly from God, the deity himself (self-presented as a kindly old man for Touya’s comprehension) apologizes and offers him a chance at a new life, with some extra perks: an extra-healthy body, affinity to all types of magic, and a bonus of his choice. Touya picks his cellphone, which God handwaves into charging by magic and receiving perfect reception anywhere in his new fantasy world. As Touya goes on adventures and meets new and interesting people, he finds that his God-given gifts (literally) may be worth more than either of them bargained for...

Advertisement

Why You Should Be Watching: In Another World With My Smartphone is, for the most part, a fun little turn-your-brain-off adventure through a fantasy word with an increasingly-OP protagonist who is neither an asshole nor a pushover, as so many seem to be. He’s also got an interesting take on various things, especially his choices of go-to magic spells. The cast is just generally fun, with the heroines being surprisingly well-rounded even without his catchall powers filling in blanks, and the entertaining side characters having their own stuff going on behind the scenes, even after Touya solves whatever huge problem they have at first. It’s a pretty good adaptation of the light novel it comes from, though their choices of which scenes to keep and which to skip aren’t always stellar. Overall, it’s not an amazing show, but one I look forward to every week.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching: What this show is missing the most is probably any kind of goal. Every time we get the “reborn in different world” type of shows, the main hero has some mission or at least some aspiration of what he wants to be, but the lack of that here makes the show feel like it’s stagnating without moving forward. The character development, the only progression you can hope for, is slowed by both the ever-widening character cast and putting emphasis on the harem aspects, to which Touya is oblivious. Speaking of Touya - I felt refreshed with him being insanely overpowered from the episode one. It was vastly different from most heroes in similar shows, but it got repetitive very quickly, and as such it lost what was most fun about the show.

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life - [Youkai Apart no Yuuga no Nichijou]

Written by: Stinolez, Raitzeno

Genres: Slice of Life, Mystery, Supernatural

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Inaba Yuushi’s parents died in his first year of middle school and he moved in with his relatives. Though he could tell that they cared for him, he felt he was a burden. Thus, when he continues on to high school, he chose one with a dormitory in order to relieve some of that burden. Unfortunately, the dormitory burned to the ground before he could move in.

Advertisement

Inaba doesn’t want to be burden any more, but it’s difficult for orphaned student with little money to find affordable place to live. Finally, he finds an apartment in a old building, with low rent and including food as well - everything seems to be too good to be true. The only catch there is that this building is occupied by people as well as supernatural creatures - ghosts, mononoke, yokai, etc. They all live together in peace here, with everyday joys and troubles. Inaba’s new high school life suddenly got much stranger than he ever bargained for.

Why You Should Be Watching: With the avalanche of new slice of life animes each season, it’s refreshing seeing one with some unique twist. Its setting offers us a little sneak peak into the supernatural world of Japanese folklore, giving it more time to shine and develop its main characters. We can see how Inaba, though almost scared to death in the beginning, is being accustomed to co-existing with spirits, ghosts and other creatures, to the extent that he’s starting to calling them his friends. On top of this super chill and laid-back atmosphere, Inaba learns about his affinity to supernatural powers. It opens doors to new situation and story progression, so the show won’t repeat itself so much, which is the downfall of so many similar shows. To put the cherry on top, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life is confirmed to be running for two seasons, so we can at least hope it won’t have a rushed and abrupt ending.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching: While Youkai Apartment has an interesting premise and what should be a fun cast of characters, it falls flat for me in a number of disappointing ways. First of all, for being a show about a guy living with a bunch of wacky nonhumans, nobody has any personality. They went a little too far in trying to make everyone “normal” despite being youkai, espers, etc, and instead everybody’s just a regular ol’ person in an apartment complex. Second, that ‘mystery’ genre tag is misleading - normally that tag means that the mysteries will eventually be explained. Obviously we’re not even halfway through the first of two seasons, but it’s looking pretty bleak on that front. They set up what would be really interesting plot points in a better anime, only to completely ignore them starting from the next episode. Third, and this is sort of an extension of the first point, they seem to shy away from utilizing the supernatural in general. They break from this every so often, but for the most part, all the ‘normal’ problems have ‘normal’ solutions even though there’re some obvious supernatural solutions there that would be less contrived, and even some of the supernatural problems have ‘normal’ solutions - most of which aren’t even clever, and feel like excuses or plotholes. It’s trying to be a piece about human nature, but it’s preachy and boring where it has the potential to be so much more interesting. It just consistently fails to deliver on its own promises.


Contributors in Alphabetical Order:

This article was a collaboration by several people of the AniTAY community on Talk Amongst Yourselves. You can join the fun by posting your own articles on Kinja with the Ani-TAY tag.


Go follow Ani-TAY on Facebook and Twitter.